The charity of Christ presses us.

The charity of Christ presses us.

Excerpt from The Love of Jesus Crucified by St. Alphonsus Liguori

St. Augustine said that a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a year of fasting on bread and water. Yes, it was for this end that our Saviour suffered so much, in order that we should think of his sufferings; because if we think on them, it is impossible not to be inflamed with divine love: The charity of Christ presses us (2 Cor. 5 : 14.). He that frequently considers the pains he has suffered for us cannot live without loving Jesus. “The charity of Christ presses us.” He will feel himself so constrained by his love that he will not find it possible to refrain from loving a God so full of love.

And, in truth, from what books can we better learn the science of the saints—that is, the science of loving God—than from Jesus crucified?

St. Thomas Aquinas was one day paying a visit to St. Bonaventure, and asked him from what book he had drawn all the beautiful lessons he had written. St. Bonaventure showed him the image of the Crucified, which was completely blackened by all the kisses that he had given it, and said, “This is my book whence I receive everything that I write; and it has taught me whatever little I know.”

It was this sweet study of the crucifix which made St. Francis become a great seraph. On one occasion, being found crying out and weeping, he was asked what was the matter with him. The saint answered, “I weep over the sorrows and insults inflicted on my Lord; and my sorrow is increased when I think of those ungrateful men who do not love him, but live without any thought of him.”

This, then, is the book—Jesus crucified—which, if we constantly read it, will teach us, on the one hand, to have a lively fear of sin, and, on the other hand, will inflame us with love for a God so full of love for us; while we read in these wounds the great malice of sin, which reduced a God to suffer so bitter a death in order to satisfy the divine justice, and the love which our Saviour has shown us in choosing to suffer so much in order to prove to us how much he loved us.

Let us beseech the divine Mother Mary to obtain for us from her Son the grace that we also may enter into these furnaces of love, in which so many loving hearts are consumed, in order that, our earthly affections being there burned away, we also may burn with those blessed flames, which render souls holy on earth and blessed in heaven. Amen.

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